Russia announced on Tuesday (26/7) that it will leave the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024 and build its own station.
The new head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, said that the institution will fulfill all its obligations to the International Space Station until its departure.
The United States and Russia, along with other partners, have been working together on the International Space Station since 1998.
But relations between the two powers have been strained since Russia invaded Ukraine. Moscow had previously threatened to abandon the project due to the sanctions imposed by Western countries since the beginning of the war.
The International Space Station – a joint project involving five space agencies – has been in orbit around Earth since 1998 and has been used to conduct thousands of science experiments.
The plant has been approved to run until 2024, but the US wants to extend the term by another six years by agreement between all partners.
Borisov, during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that his country had taken a decision to end the project after 2024.
“I think at this point we will start building a Russian orbital station,” Borisov said, adding that the new station is his agency’s first priority.
It remains unclear what this decision means for the future of the International Space Station. A senior NASA official told Reuters news agency that the US space agency had not officially been informed of Russia’s plans.
Cooperation on the International Space Station between Russia and the United States appears to be going relatively unscathed by the war in Ukraine, as the two countries signed an agreement earlier this month to allow Russian cosmonauts to travel to the station on American spacecraft and vice versa.
A statement from Roscosmos said that the agreement “will promote the development of cooperation within the framework of the International Space Station programme.”
But the war hit other areas of cooperation between Russia and the West.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has ended its collaboration with Roskosmos to send an exploration rover to Mars, and Russia has halted the launch of its Soyuz spacecraft from the ESA launch center in French Guiana.
The Soviet Union and Russia have a long history of space exploration. Accomplishments such as sending the first man into space in 1961 are still a source of national pride.
In his meeting with Putin, the head of Roscosmos, Borisov, said that the new Russian space station will provide Moscow with space services necessary for modern life, for example, navigation and data transmission.
Analysis by Jonathan Amos, BBC science correspondent
The Russians announced their withdrawal from the International Space Station some time ago, but it is still not clear how serious this decision will be.
They talked about building their outpost – the Russian Orbital Service Station – but this would require a financial commitment that the Russian government has yet to prove for space exploration already being made across the country.
Certainly, the Russian elements and parts that make up the International Space Station are obsolete, but the opinion of the engineers is that the units can perform their function by 2030.
If you leave Russia, there is no doubt that it will be a problem. The station is designed to make the partners dependent on each other.
The American side of the International Space Station provides the force; The Russian side provides thrust and prevents the station from hitting the ground.
If this boosted capacity is withdrawn, the United States and its other partners – Europe, Japan and Canada – will need to come up with other means to propel the station higher periodically. It’s something America’s robotic cargo ships can do.
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